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Labour plans tax-funded propaganda blitz

Tony Ryall MP
National Party Health Spokesman

18 September 2007

Labour plans tax-funded propaganda blitz

National Party Health spokesman Tony Ryall is appalled that Labour is already planning to exploit the loop-holes it has left itself in the electoral reform bill, with a tax-funded propaganda blitz on health in election year.

"Leaked draft documents reveal the extent to which Labour plans to campaign on the public purse. This campaign includes a script for call-takers at an 0800 phone line who will sing the praises of Labour's health policies."

Mr Ryall is referring to papers tabled by National Leader John Key in Parliament today which show the campaign is designed to leverage off another media campaign which is already under way and which highlights Labour's recent changes to the funding of doctors' visits.

"It's hard to see how this can be described as anything but overt electioneering. However, it will not be caught by the electoral reform bill because Labour wants to exempt departmental advertising. It's now clear why politically neutral public servants are no longer welcome in departmental comms teams."

Mr Ryall says the script being provided to call-takers includes such gems as, 'the Labour-led Government has invested $2.2 billion over the past six years to help make primary health care more affordable for everyone' and 'it has never been easier or more affordable for you to go to the doctor'.

"When Kiwi patients are being treated on trolleys in corridors and bleeding into garden buckets at hospital A & E departments, many will question the value of a health advertising campaign where call takers on the free phone line are instructed to talk about the virtues of the 'Labour-led' Government."

Mr Ryall says the campaign is due to kick off in April, at a time when all other New Zealanders who want to play a part in our democracy will face strict limits and conditions.

"This is exactly the sort of behaviour that New Zealanders railed against in 2005, when Labour eventually buckled to public pressure and repaid the money it plundered from the taxpayer purse to fund its pledge card."

ENDS

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